So we know how to fix SOCIAL SECURITY and "it's easy?"

Senator McCain surprised the heck out of me when he answered to a question regarding Social Security entitlements by saying that he knew how to do it and that it was “easy.”

****EASY!! ****:dubious:

So I listened and waited. Listened and waited for his quick and easy solution - a solution I don’t believe he has offered up in his 26 years in Congress. I didn’t hear it tonight either. Did anyone?

The Social Security problem has been out there just like the mortgage and banking issue, lurking and looming in the background for quite sometime now. I think this a problem many economists have said is a very serious issue that we must face up to. And, soon.

Medicare and Social Security: Big Entitlement Costs on the Horizon

If it is as easy as Senator McCain says, methinks President Obama should draft him and make him Czar of a Special Commission to fix Social Security Entitlements and the like.

He also has a secret plan to get Bin Ladin. Maybe the two are connected?

  1. Increase FICA tax
  2. Decrease benefits
  3. Push up the age of retirement

There’s no way you’ll hear any of the above

I wish Obama had said “why don’t you tell Bush”.

Actually, McCain and rock party are correct: social security is a manageable problem. And Brokaw’s question was ignorant, whether by accident or intention.

When people talk about the entitlement crisis, they usually say “Social-security-and-medicare”, which is different than “Social security”.
The real problem is with medicare. That’s basically unsolvable, absent health care reform.

Yet medicare is also a problem that will solve itself: that which cannot go on forever will eventually stop. (Ref: Stein’s Law)

Well, you could take everybody over 70 out back and shoot them. That should free up a few bucks.

If I understood McCain’s answer correctly, all we have to do is dig up Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, re-animate them, and have McCain sit down with them and hammer out a bipartisan agreement.

I think that’s what he was trying to say, anyway.

I actually liked McCain’s response here, because it moved away from the fear-mongering that so typically one hears about Social Security, particularly from those people who would like to see us privatize it.

In all likelihood, Social Security will be just fine for most of the next century. Even the worst case scenarios suggest that in about 70 years, people would need to take a slightly lower benefit than they should get.

I don’t like idealizing the deal between Reagan and O’Neill (and Greenspan), which simply jacked up the taxes that we wage earners pay now in order to create a big surplus that could then be scarfed up to be handed to the wealthy as tax cuts. I want my goddamn lockbox, and I want it now.

Now that might change the election. :wink:

A National Health program will end the health care and Medicare problem . Sociial Security has little fixes that will take care of it. It is solvent and well run. However in 30 years we will have to do something . We could raise FICA level .

McCain’s strategy for everything lately seems to be to say that he knows how to deal with it. “I know how to win wars”, “I know how to fix Social Security”, “I know how to keep kids off my lawn”.

Telling me that you know how to do something doesn’t actually tell me how you intend to do it. It’s a confidence game. It also doesn’t say that you’ll be able to do what you think you need to do, because there’s this tiny little flaw in the process that revolves around Congress making those decisions and not the President.

What about his plan to buy out all those bad mortgages? So - you have a mortgage and you’re managing to make the payments, but your neighbour is being foreclosed on and he’s going to get bailed out?

Way to bring people together.:smack:

What’s odd is that mavericks are generally not sausage-makers – quite the contrary.

Those who can cut deals are generally popular within their party and respected by the opposition.

Cheney had a very conservative voting record, but was good at conciliation while in Congress. Rostenkowski’s skills were legendary. Johnson was good at imposing discipline, but he had more tools at hand than are available now.

McCain, Metzenbaum and Jesse Helms were another sort of congressmen, intent on persuading a narrower constituency of their purity and conviction. Bringing people together wasn’t a big part of their skill set.

But… but… he will reach across the aisle! (and ask you if you have any gum).

It’s gotta be 1, 2 or 3 of the above. Basic balance sheet economics. There is no other way to do it.

There is still time, I think, to have a decent impact using number 2 above by voluntarily letting people opt-out of the system. But that window is shrinking.

  1. Raise retirement age to 75! (Good luck finding a job at 70, though)
  2. Promote unhealthy lifestyles for the elderly (drinking, smoking, rich foods, drug use)
    3)appoint Dr. Jack Kevorkian to be head of benefits (“death” benefits-he will devise “exit” options for pensioners
    Problem solved!:smiley:

While McCain’s non-answer pissed me off, I do agree that fixing SS would be easy. The only problem is it is not to anyone’s political advantage.

I keep trotting out the asteroid-heading-towards-earth scenario. Right now, with the asteroid at a great distance, all we need to do is nudge it to have it miss the earth by a safe distance. But if we wait until it is bearing down on us, far more drastic action is needed.

So what can we do? Any number of things. Or maybe a little bit of a lot of things.
How about nudging up the SS tax rate?
Or raising/eliminating the max wages subject to withholding?
Raise retirement age?
Reduce benefits?
Add means testing for recipients?
Scale back on some of the SS expansions - to spouses, children, SSI, disability…?
Delay/reduce COLAs?
And those are just stream-of-thought off the top of my head.

The only problem is - each and every one of these solutions will cost someone. And we live in a day and time where we don’t want to acknowledge that anyone has to pay for anything. How does a sitting politician decide who he wants to piss off? Old folk who vote in high numbers? High earning folk? Young people?

Meanwhile, that asteroid is still a long ways off. Heck, no sitting politician will still be in office when it crashes into earth. So why not put it off for the next guy to deal with.

Additional wrinkle - the asteroid is not coming in at a constant speed. In times of economic growth, it actually slows down or even recedes. But then in a downturn, it is suddenly much closer.

Fixing SS is not difficult. Fixing the lack of political will is.

We need to eliminate the cap on income for FICA withholding. Right now, any income over $102k is not subject to withholding, so the more you make above that, the smaller the percentage of your total income is withheld for FICA. This is not only unfair to the workers at the bottom of the ladder, it is just stupid economics to let the system go broke while ignoring a source of principal. As a self employed business owner, I pay 12% of my income into FICA. I see no reason why someone making a million dollars per year should pay only 1% into FICA.

I favor this as well. But it need not be the sole solution. Perhaps you could increase/double the income subject to withholding. Or maybe withhold over the current limit at a lower percentage. Heck, maybe you could even make the 1st $20-30K NOT subject to withholding…

But whatever you do, it is going to piss someone off. And politicians strongly tend to avoid any action that is likely to piss off any identifiable group of voters.

Also, such a change will take us further away from the fiction that SS is some kind of a personal retirement investment plan. It never was, and whatever relationship there ever was has gotten more and more tenuous over the years.

SS is an income redistribution tax first and foremost. My preference would be for everyone to stop pretending otherwise.

As others have pointed out, Social Security isn’t in trouble. The CBO says the trust fund won’t run out until 2049. In the 1990s, the trust fund was supposed to run out in the late 2020s. There’s a real chance that the trust fund might never run out, without any changes to the program.

My attitude is: wake me up when the Trust Fund is only 30 years from going bust, and we can deal with it then.

Medicare costs are going up because health care costs are going up across the board. The other advanced democracies have universal health care, and use universality in various ways to contain costs. We don’t.